Sunday, 15 June 2014

Chelmsford Angling Association - Braxted Reservoir Part 1

In this blog I am going to be documenting my first two trips to the Braxted reservoir. For those of you that follow my writing you will know that I like to fish a series of different waters at the same time. I enjoy new challenges, there's nothing quite like arriving at a new water with no real knowledge of the place or its inhabitants. I find thinking about a number of waters at the same time allows a huge amount of productive thinking, it's kinda like getting into a groove.

Since joining Chelmsford my head has been spinning with the possibilities that are potentially ahead of me and to be honest my thoughts about the lakes have become marginally obsessive .... I think you know what I mean.

One aspect of the club that I really like is the fact they have a closed season, I feel there should really be a closed season on all waters, commercials included. This allows the fish to get on with, "just being fish", without the pressure of lines in the water. I personally believe this helps the fishing in the long term, I also believe the carp start to act and feed more naturally without constantly being on 'high alert'. 

The Braxted Complex

When I started to fish some of the waters it became very apparent that the closed season did the fish the world of good. The carp are very active, showing themselves, jumping about and nicely giving themselves away as they pummel through the silt on the feed. There is no comparison with the fish activity on my other club, 'Kingfishers' that allows fishing all year round. 

The waters I have chosen to target aren't easy but that's all part of this new process, I don't want easy, I want satisfaction in knowing that I have earned every bite, these waters are another step on the ever ascending angling ladder and I'm sure as hell going to keep on climbing it, no doubt slipping every so often in the process.

The Braxted Reservoir is part of three lakes on the Braxted complex. Along with it you also have both front and back lakes, the back lake holds the monsters with fish in excess of 40IB at the right time of the year, this is suppose to be a very hard water. Front lake holds a load of twenties with a good head of fish in the 30IB bracket.

The Res
Before I set foot on either of these I wanted to give the reservoir a go, it's meant to have some really nice fish in it. For me to fish any of the Chelmsford waters it works out around 100 miles there and back, I will travel anywhere if I feel it's worth it. Not only does the journey up give you a huge amount of thinking time, the journey back allows you to process what you've learnt throughout the day.

For my first session I arrived at the water for 11:30am, it was warm with a light breeze, as I pushed my barrow over the small narrow bridge leading up to the water I caught a glimpse of a few carp sitting just under the surface in a quiet little corner. I positioned myself in the nearest swim that I could to get to them, the angle from the bank along with the over hanging trees made it very tricky to get a bait out. Having just invested in some chest waders, getting the angle I needed wouldn't be a problem, I literally just had to step down into the water.

My chosen baits were Starmers Coconut fish combined with Halibut & Coconut, I used this combination on the back lake at chase with consistent success. With one being black and the other a light brown it adds an interesting visual effect. After having a lead about I found that along the margin of the dam wall there was a lovely load of silt, roughly about a rod lenght wide. I felt this was a perfect area to place my baits, I am not interested in the hard spots, that's all I hear people talk about, I want the soft stuff, it's full of natural food and doesn't pose any problems when it comes to presentation.

Coconut Fish And Halibut & Coconut Combination

In the past I have caught countless fish on bottom baits from silty areas, today I opted for a very low pop up, practically suspended off the eye of the hook and balanced perfectly so it sinks really slow. It's important with this presentation to take your time and really focus on getting the bait to drop through the water as slow as possible, I personally love this approach, I find it also works very well over clear bottoms.

Presentation From Above

   Presentation From The Side

The plan was to fish single pop ups and put a wide, dense spread of free offerings all around the area. I wasn't worried about accuracy, I wanted to get the fish moving about and getting into a rhythm of picking a bait up and then moving on to the next. If you can really get them going on the feed their defences drop and they're more liable to trip up on the hook bait. Before casting out I got a load of bait in, more than I usually use, it just felt like the right thing to do. Once done I cast both rods as close to the marginal features as possible, I was bang on the silt because when each lead landed a huge amount of bubbles were kicked up. I felt the lead down, there wasn't a 'donk', more of a 'splat'.

View From The Swim
To my surprise I started to get liners straight away, when I looked closely I could still see a few carp on the surface, my plan was to put enough bait out to hopefully pull them down to investigate. It must have been only thirty minutes or so before my right hand rod screamed off, as I lent in to the fish it had a lot weight behind it and was putting up one hell of a fight. The fish showed itself and it looked like a really nice common, I eventually netted her and was pleasantly surprised when the scales fell to 23.5IB.

First Blood From The Res
I gently slipped her back and got the rod straight back on the same spot, once the bobbin was on I put another four handfuls of bait out. During this process my right-hand rod was off again, this fight was frantic, it felt like a smaller fish but still gave a great account of itself. Once in the net I was staring at a perfect looking common, she maybe scraped a double, size was irrelevant, the fish was perfect looking.

What A Perfect Looking Fish
I got her back and repeated the process, rig was straight back out with another 3 to 4 handfuls of bait. I was feeling pleased, my location and approach was working a treated. After the first two fish things slowed up for a while, I made sure that the bait was being introduced, little and often. An hour passed and the left rod was away. The carp kited for the corner, I applied the pressure and steered her my way, after another spirited fight I banked my third fish, scales fell to 13IB, another perfect looking common.

13IB Common On The Coconut Fish
I slipped her back and decided to reel both rods in, I added a good few more handfuls of bait and decided to go for a wander around the rest of the lake, I wanted to rest the swim. On my walk I clocked a fair few spots that I'd like to give a go in the future, the res doesn't have a great deal of features but there are some nice marginal areas that I am sure the fish visit.

A Lovely Calm, Closing To The Day
As I walked the path along the dam wall I stopped and peered through the bushes to see if I could see any evidence of feeding over my spots. There was some real action going on, it was fizzing like crazy, it was time to get the rods back out. Once back in my swim both casts were on the money and I was expecting a quick take, five minutes later the right hand rod was away, this felt like a good fish, she surfaced, it was a nice golden looking common that was refusing to give up, eventually I netted her, she was bang on 17IB, what an awesome result and a great fish to end my first session with.

17IB Bar Of Gold
Once she was back in the water I packed up and prepared myself for the long drive home, I was pleased considering it was my first session. I decided I would pay the res another visit the following week. Depending on the conditions I might fish the same swim, it all depends on what the water is telling me when I arrive on the day. I feel there are some really nice fish to be had and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds on this water.

Part Two Following Shortly 

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